Monday, January 21, 2008

Basic social etiquettes

Last year I was doing this project at this typical IT Company. I had befriended a punju colleague and the two of us are good friends to this day. This gal was expecting her first baby. One day she called me on my extension. She was almost crying because she was unable to use the Rest Room as it was almost always filthy and waiting for the Housekeeping to come and clean it up was impossible for her in her condition. I told her to come down to the marketing floor i.e my floor and use our toilet. I was the only female on this floor and hence the ladies toilet was always clean. Since then she climbed down the flight of stairs to use the toilet.

I suggested to the Facility Manager to put up a Toilet Usage Instruction boards on the toilet walls, like I have seen in my IT companies. But he was helpless due to some corporate policies. The HR manager then suggested that I take the initiative as that would be permitted. So I took some A4 size printouts detailing step by step on how to use the toilet and leave it clean and dry for the next user and gave it to the Housekeeping staff to stick it where it will be noticed, i.e right in front of your eyes when you use the loo. The small act was a success and people actually learnt to use the Rest Room the proper way. Periodic reminder when somebody slipped up was done by the employees committee and we had peace since then.

I remember going to this company in ITPL with a couple of friends to give a surprise birthday lunch to one of my classmates interning there. While we waited at the Reception for her to come out, we saw the Receptionists getting all hot and bothered about the rest rooms not being clean. The reason? Interviews were going on and the large crowd gathered there had made the rest room worse than public toilets.

Go to any company today, and toilet usage instructions are pasted to the walls, because most of us do not know how to respect a public facility like a toilet, inspite of working at top jobs in swanky buildings. And it is not just the small towners but anyone can be guilty of the same. In fact “toilet tensions” are recorded everywhere and right now many a Corporate Communications Team are putting batches of fresher through its paces which include rest room hygiene.

Why are we like this? We are all bought up in good homes. We are all particular about our home rest rooms. Why can’t we use a public toilet the way we use our own back home? What’s the point of all this degrees and doctorates when we are unable to come out of our narrow confines and act like members of a society and respect other people and common facilities as our own?!

20 comments:

Rockus said...

Absolutely spot on. In our mens room some morons spit gum right on the drain hole. A nightmare for the housekeeping chechis. Worse part is they look at contempt at guys like me chewing gum thinking we are doing the mean stuff.
When do these people grow up??

Jive Talker said...

Hey..Sorry to be talking about something that might be "non-relevant", but what happened to your Grammar through this post. I read "poomanam" regularly and this is the first time I've noticed. Unless you wrote the blog in of those loos and had to make a quick getaway, grammar be damned :-)

Anonymous said...

I am onsite in Chicago. We had been given separate Rest Rooms till some time back. The reasons were obvious.

Deepti said...

Hey its almost like you've taken this post from my mind ... keep having this problem everywhere and despite the printouts in each loo, people still sometimes dont bother .. We had a principal in school, a nun ,who used to warn us that we would be made to do the housekeeping if the loos were not kept clean, guess It companies should try these threats if anything else doesnt work... :)

emmanuel said...

It depends on the basic “childish” mentality through which we grow up.......If I don’t care about the tidiness at home, it won’t be an issues.....someone else will look into it....my mom or dad.......or at least we may keep it clean for the ‘fear’ that they may scold u......but when I get out of home......nobody will ask me to follow this basic etiquette......to correct this only a small thought is enough....if somebody has kept it clean for me, why should I deprive the same right for others.....but it is so sad that nobody cares for others at least in such cases......because we want and consider ourselves to be “grown-ups” only in some 'status conscious' contexts.........which I wud say as simply ridiculous....

Nice post, btw....... :)

mathew said...

next time you put a poster like .."Our hidden camera has captured that you dont clean the loo as per protocol..This video will shortly appear in youtube"

am sure it will work..you can have the spankiest loo in the whole world!!;-P

on a serious note i fully agree with you..it seems ironic in that sense..keep the home clean everywhere else is rubbish bin!!

Safari Al said...

we are like this wonly.

etiquettes for home, the rest of the world can go to hell.

silverine said...

rockus: Disgusting!! The housekeeping staff in my place are on duty throughout to ensure the toilet is clean for the next incumbent.

jive talker: You are absolutely right!! Your comment is non-relevant and hence doesn't warrant a reply. On the other hand, the day I put up a post dissing other bloggers and their English, grammar etc, you can use the same comment here again. It will be more appropriate then!

Anon: Thats news to me!

deepti: I wish we could use such tactics :p

emmanuel: Thank you :) I think the fault lies in our education system, where civic sense is instilled only in a few upmarket school students.

mathew: Good suggestion :p Wish we could use it though. What beats me is that we are the only people in the world who are like this.

Safari Al: Very true!!

archie said...

We have this same problem at our office too. It ironic that in a building full of educated people we are seriously lacking in basic civic sense. I wish we could really put Matthew's suggestion to use.I guess that would be the only thing that would deter such people.
We have also got the our admin guys to put up large posters with a step by step instruction on how to use the facilities. It truly laughable when you read the instructions...you'd think the loo was being used by a bunch of morons. When this did not work we even got one of the housekeeping staff to remain in the common area of the loo and check the loo when each person left..that poor lady has a truly lousy job

Jithesh said...

Good points! But sometimes rather than the filth, it is the graffiti that causes nausea in these places :-)

Your post brings to my mind the concept of "tragedy of commons". Though not exactly relevant to what you have said, this concept illustrates how free and unrestricted access to a finite resource ultimately depletes that resource through over-exploitation. This happens because the benefits of such exploitation accrue to the individuals whereas the costs are shared by the community as a whole.

Many a times people tend to care only about their own convenience while (mis)using common toilets. But while doing this they tend to forget/overlook the tremendous inconvenience it brings to other users. Cant think of a solution other than surveillance cameras :-)

Jiby said...

There is a sign stuck in our restroom..."If it ain't clean, you ain't leavin'!" I used to be amused seeing that sign, but that sign serves it purpose wonderfully well in reminding us to clean up after ourselves and saves the cleaning staff a round of cleaning at noon, inspite of their usual routine in the evening.

ursjina said...

very true..u nailed it rite ther..i sued to wonder abt it oo..i think itsd the typical i dont care you shu care syndrome

silverine said...

archie: You are right. The instructions makes it appear as if some barbarians are using the loo. And I really pity the housekeeping staff!

jithesh: The "tragedy of commons' explains a lot! But then how do you explain the civic sense of other countries? Singapore airport that handles the largest volumes of passengers has spic and span toilets!

Jiby: lol! Thats a good idea!! But it wont work here :(

ursjina: I think our parents should instill this discipline in us.

Pradeep said...

I have always believed in the "Toilet Test" -- the state of the toilets is a good indication of the type of people around.

If people keep toilets clean, that's not because they want to impress someone or because they are scared of someone, it's because they feel responsible even in the anonymity the restroom offers.

State of the toilets indicates whether the good we do are to just to impress someone or because we genuinely feel the need to be good.

SV said...

Maybe it will help if these building morons added some indian seats in addition to the western ones..

Anonymous said...

sorry...but this is an irrelevant comment on ur blog silverine...its for jiby...waiting for ur lovely posts man and none are forthcoming, tho i see ur comment here...plz come outta hibernation, ppl like u shud keep writing!!

Anonymous said...

Good posts to begin the year silverine. I liked Gender Disconnection very much. Generated a debate in my office. What next? Can't wait :-)

| Balu | said...

He he.. when we were in first year of college we were given a dorm and the toilets my god they were #&%#&*%$% !

One of my mal friends, being a mal decided to change the world. He put up instructions like u did on all toilet doors in three lang that too kannada, english and hindi...

but this turned out to be a missile that never took off... I shifted to a double seater soon!

Mind Curry said...

very interesting.. if at all possible send me the contents of your TU instruction board..unless its copyrighted or something..i will set myself on a "pasting-the-TUIB" spree.

your post brought back the vivid stench from most public rest rooms across india. its such a shame.

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

I did a similar thing in my hostel in undergrad but to no avail :(
And I vented the frustration by writing this article back then:

http://s-kar.blogspot.com/2008/04/to-put-it-in-differently.html